Ok, time to level with me.
Are you still absentmindedly clicking through indeed.com? Maybe LinkedIn or Glassdoor is your tool of choice? Is it because the work you do now isn’t fulfilling and you’ve finally come to the conclusion that “I need to make a change in my career”?
If you’re right on that edge of “something must be done” about this, you probably want to know what’s the most important thing I need to consider when making a career change?
Well, you’re in luck!
Why? Because we’ve asked hundreds of people who’ve made successful career pivots the same question after they’ve completed the journey:
What advice would you give someone who’s decided they want to make a career change?
What came back was surprising! It didn’t have anything to do with the best resume ever or the best tactic to market your skills or even the steps to take.
Nope! Instead, it turns out that all of them described making a career change as a journey and there are far more important advice to consider.
We’ve taken the advice from 6 successful career changers and put it into this article (below). You can also listen to all of it on the podcast here!
MICHAL BALASS | REBECCA MADDOX | LOUISE MCNEE | LAURA MORRISON | DAVE STACHOWIAK | MATT TOY
Michal: Executed a successful career change and start her own side photography business Rebecca: An attorney, who thought she might need to get out of law to be happy. Louise: Changed jobs 3 times thinking it would solve the problem, found what she wants in a completely different industry. Laura: Worked in Boston within sustainability. Then she had a baby and decided things needed to change. Dave: Started his own organization: Coaching for Leaders. Matt: Opened his own yoga business for men. Each of these powerhouse individuals shared their thoughts with us about figuring out what they want to do, tips and tools for enacting change, big picture ideas, and (of course) making a career change. After chatting with the group, we found three broader career change topics within the advice shared. What we’ve complied is essential advice for anyone looking to make a career change, no matter the stage of their journey. This advice is precious gold people, precious! Check it out:
LOVE YOURSELF (BUT IN WAYS THAT FUEL THE FIRE)
Did you know, people who focus on being happy are more successful than people who focus on being successful? It’s true; success isn’t the precursor to happiness.
Honing your daily routine to make yourself happy, boosts your ability to think creatively, to positively spin any bad interaction or mistake you make into a learning opportunity, and uncover new ways to solve issues at hand. All of which, are perfect for any work environment.
However, those superhero work skills don’t perform unless you’re happy. And if you’re not happy, you’re probably not taking care of yourself.
… what I loved about your course was the whole ‘master schedule’ idea. So, really looking down and saying what’s my schedule look like on a day to day, weekly, monthly, maybe even yearly basis and really figuring out, ok where am I losing time or where am I not being effective or where am I just sitting by myself thinking and analyzing and judging and blah, blah, blah. So that was really helpful to look at it and be like, ok cool, when I am going to be taking action and growing a business, am I still going to go to the gym? Am I still going to practice yoga? Am I still going to eat well? You know, you allocate time to all the things that keep the machine going, that keep, gas in the tank essentially…You need to take care of yourself. So, sleep, proper nutrition, lots of fruits and vegetables…the more that you can double down on, you know, your health and your wellness, the better. That will go back to the effectiveness and efficiency on how you run your business.Matt Toy
As the owner of a business that teaches men yoga, Matt takes care of himself. He exercises, sleeps well, and eats well. And he has to! His dedication to health and wellness is part of what makes his narrative credible for his business. But there’s a huge bonus there: the energy Matt puts into taking care of himself is energy he’s able to put right back into his business.
So, do you take care of your health? If not, that’s first on the checklist. Taking care of your body gives you more energy and makes you feel better about yourself. And when you feel better, you’re more likely to do better – in everything.
Now, let’s talk about another way you might not be loving yourself:
I would say, you have to take the pressure off yourself and it’s easier said than done sometimes but…we all put the pressure on ourselves. I think in a lot of situations, it’s not other people putting the pressure on us, it’s us putting the pressure on ourselves. So, take the pressure off……I’ve now realized, that for me, career can’t be everything.Louise McNee
How we think about and, talk to ourselves impacts our quality of life drastically. For instance, if we tell ourselves to expect perfection, or instant results, or a 0.01% error rate in our work, we feel horrible when we fail. And when we repeatedly fail at not being what we expect of ourselves, we begin to doubt everything we do and distrust our abilities. That leads into a depressing and self-limiting cycle of existence.
Living like that, isn’t healthy or happy. But, one way you can take some of pressure off yourself, is coming to terms with something Louise said: Career isn’t everything.
Making “career isn’t everything” manifest in your life, looks different person to person. However, people who don’t solely focus on career often spend their free-time engaging in a hobby, bonding with loved ones, or doing something they love while connecting with others.
Activities like the ones we just mentioned, recharge our batteries and spark happiness. They give our minds a break to connect dots and process. Meaning, you might have the “Eureka!” moment as to what you want your next job to be while you’re out hiking.
DON’T LOOK FOR A JOB; LOOK FOR HELP AND RELATIONSHIPS
Do you remember working in customer service during the holiday season when you needed that job in college? Yeah, we did that too…And experiences like that can easily make us believe that people are just the worst. But actually, people are great. And you need them to make your career change happen. Consider what Laura has to say:
…it took me a few months to look for outside help and that was the thing that I needed…particularly as someone who has been successful, it’s hard to admit to myself, it was hard for me to say I couldn’t do it by myself, you know, I’m a smart person, I should be able to figure this out. But, as soon as I, you know, had my first career coaching experience it turned around my approach to finding a new job and it completely gave me the power back and the tools that I needed to do it. So, I think, you know, if you know exactly what you want to do, then you probably aren’t listening to this podcast, but if you don’t, just know there are a lot of tools and resources and people out there who can help you.Laura Morrison
Laura speaks the truth, folks. It took her a moment of talking down her pride, but asking for help from others is what catapulted her into her career change journey.
It NEVERS hurts to ask and, in the midst of something like a career change, asking can get you pretty far. Listen to Rebecca:
…I say you owe it to yourself just to give it some time, see what you think…go try something…see what your options are. Or even go talk to somebody…reach out to someone, talk to friends, say, ‘hey, do you know anyone who does this sort of this thing? I think it’s interesting.’And, maybe meet up for coffee. Because a five minute conversation or even a fifteen minute conversation…saying, “Hi, I think what you do is amazing…I’m really curious what it means to do your job.’ I would say it’s worth it, it’s no pressure…and if it works out, that’s how most people find their jobs anyways.Rebecca Maddox
We can’t tell you how invaluable coffee conversations are! Rebecca is so spot on when she says, “…that’s how most people find their jobs…” Asking someone about their job, that genuinely interests you, shows the person you’re ambitious, dedicated, and hungry. Talking over coffee about their job also endears you to them. And bonds like that, can come back with project or job offers you might not have received otherwise.
… I would recommend… to keep on having conversations. Don’t have conversations because you’re looking for another job. Have conversations with people who are doing things that are interesting because you’re interested in it. And, that’s going to open a whole world to you that you don’t know about because you’re not having conversations…I’m still connecting…You know, even now, where I’m very happy with my current position…I’m still having conversations…because I don’t know what circumstance is going to change which is going to spark another move or another desire for a career change…the important part of having conversations, is that it enlightens you about the possibilities.Michal Balass
What Michal described is something everyone experiences sooner or later. If, in trying to change your career, you schmooze everyone, not much return is going to come back on your investment. But, if you chat with people who do things you want to know more about, your enthusiasm will be contagious. And, that will come back to bite you. In a good way.
DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE BIG PICTURE
…things do always work outMichal Balass
We can’t help but agree Michal. Despite the setbacks and obstacles that come with changing careers, if you see it through, things will indeed work out. We all need that reminder, because some weeks, we only remember how hard we fell and not how much progress we made since the start of our journey.
Nobody will ever say changing your career is easy but, just about everyone will say it’s worth it. Take, for example, what Dave Stachowiak says:
…I’m not sure how this is all going to work long term. Yes I’m struggling this week or this month…but I said I was going to do this, so I’m going to keep doing it.
…One of the NBA players said, being a professional is about doing the things you love to do on the days you don’t feel like doing it….there are many moments like that in all of our careers.Dave Stachowiak
Each of these sound bites from Dave are invaluable. Dave, who works with Dale Carnegie and stared his own organization and leadership academy, has even had doubts about his path. But, he told himself, keep going.
Dave also took inspiration from the NBA player, Julius Erving. Julius’s quote aptly reflects the amount of work and effort that goes into achieving a goal. Plus, it highlights importance of why meaningful work doesn’t sprout out of your fingertips after a week on the job.
Honing your abilities to create life-impacting, meaningful work can take decades. We’re serious; that’s how it should be. Learning to love yourself, asking for help, sincerely connecting with others, and honing in on the work you love, can take decades. Even Julius Erving recognized that which, is why he continued to work on his craft even when he didn’t feel it, to serve the bigger picture he had for himself. That all takes time.
Last but not least, we’ve got a few more golden nuggets from Rebecca we want you to read:
…Skills are transferable…And realize that there are those people in your life who say, ‘you get your job and you stick to it and that’s the one thing that you do’…that’s not the word we will live…it feels a little bit more like a game of chutes and ladders. So it’s a matter of where you shift. And ultimately, like, if people are telling you, “You’ve got the dream” but something doesn’t feel right, that’s fine. That’s fine. Trust that… Do the right thing.Rebecca Maddox
Rebecca’s words hit home for us. Our experiences to find meaningful careers hasn’t been a straight shot. It’s definitely been more of a zigzag, obstacle course.
Despite playing Chutes and Ladders with our career moves, we also acknowledge at HTYC, that skills are transferable. That’s empowering when starting a new career path because it means you don’t start from scratch. You rather, move sideways and start your new career on a comparable rung level to the rung on the ladder you just came from.
Also, and this is so important, do trust your gut. Not trusting yourself can result in dead-end jobs, unfulfilling careers, or worse.
In short, these are the pieces of advice that helped each of these successful career changers:
- Do the things that fuel you! Take care of yourself, physically and mentally, and focus on being happy to ensure that you’re putting in as much energy in as you put out. Otherwise, changing your career is going to fall flat, just like your energy level.
- Ask people for help and for conversations. At the end of the day, connecting with people is how you get a job. Just make sure you’re actively seeking folks to chat with who do something that interests you.
- Don’t forget the big picture. Don’t forget that things will take some time, and that you’ll have to work at it. But also remember, things will work out.
If you want even more help getting started figuring out the ideal career for you, join our free 8 Day Mini-Course to help you figure out the life and work you love or talk to our team about our coaching programs
Matt Toy 00:01
You allocate time to all the things that keep the machine going, that keep, you know, gas in the tank, essentially.
Laura Morrison 00:08
Particularly as someone who has been successful, it's hard to admit to myself, it was hard for me to say I couldn't do it by myself.
This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what it does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.
Scott Anthony Barlow 00:44
Welcome to the Happen To Your Career podcast. I'm Scott Anthony Barlow. This is the show where we share stories of how high achievers find career happiness and meaning. Our team, every single day, we get tons of questions about everything you can imagine to do with careers. What should I do differently on my applications to get the interviews that I want? How do I narrow down the list of stuff that I'm interested in to make into a career? How do I translate my skills into something that would be amazing for a job or career opportunity? And here's the thing, we absolutely love that we get all these questions. It's the reason why we do what we do. We'd love to be able to help. And at the same time, what we've learned is that most of the time when we get these questions, they're just barely scratching the surface of what you need to know, to make really big career changes, to design a career in a life that you love. And many of the things that you want if you're listening to this show right now. So we thought, okay, well, we asked many of our students, and our podcast guests, what advice would you give other people that want to make a really big career change to meaningful work? And we do that, at the end of many of our episodes, we do that when people go through our programs and our bootcamps, and they've made a huge change. And here's the thing, these are people that have been there, they've done that, they've made the journey. And we thought it would be really incredibly valuable to take the advice that each of these people have given when they're on the other side. And they know all the things that you need to do and how to do them and what they experienced and what worked and what didn't work. So in this particular episode, we've taken that advice from six different people, most of them students of ours, and we share the things that you wouldn't even think to ask about what it really takes to make a big career change.
Louise McNee 02:46
We all put the pressure on ourselves, I think in a lot of situations, there's not other people putting the pressure on us.
Scott Anthony Barlow 02:51
That's Louise McNee, by the way, she made a move to a completely different industry, in this case, broadcasting that she had never worked in before and moved to a role that she absolutely loves.
Louise McNee 03:02
You have to take the pressure off yourself. And you have to think about not just the role, but the people, you've got to think about everything because I remember when I did the, you know, what does your ideal day look like? I felt like I was being a bit spoiled by saying certain things. You know, I want to be able to, you know, wake up whatever time in the morning I want to wake up and I want to be able to have a cup of tea in bed before I go to work, and really get down into those details because I find that it's not those details as such is not going to make you figure out what's going on, if you find a pattern in what you actually really need in your day to get, you know, through the day in the most positive, fulfilled way. So, you know, it's, like, take the pressure off, really get down into the detail. And one of the things to me was kind of realizing that potentially, which is so different from where I was, one of me, I come from making career everything. I've now realized that for me, career can't be everything.
Scott Anthony Barlow 04:09
Louise's experience is interesting, because it's not that different from what many of us experience. We're adding pressure to ourselves that doesn't even need to be there. It's making it harder for us to make a real change in our lives. And then on top of that, many of us feel indulgent or she called it spoiled, if we really proclaim what we actually want. Now the thing that we've learned is if you never acknowledge what you really want, and you never ask for what you want, then you never actually get to what you want. Rebecca Maddox had a really similar experience.
Rebecca Maddox 04:42
I say you owe it to yourself. Just give it some time, give it... see what you think.
Scott Anthony Barlow 04:48
By the way, Rebecca, was a burned out attorney who was also tired of life and the whole game that was being played in Washington DC and she made a pretty huge change to a completely different organization across the country that truly met her needs.
Rebecca Maddox 05:02
Go look into, like, see what your options are. Reach out to someone, talk to friend, and say, "hey can you even get paid does this sort of thing? I think it's interesting.” And maybe meet up for coffee, because a five minute conversation or even 15 minute conversation, saying, “Hi, I think what you do is amazing. I'm really curious when you do your job.” I would say it's worth it. It's no pressure. And if it works out, that's how most people find their jobs anyways. And if you're in that moment and thinking, "Geez, I'm so entrenched in where I am, like, moving to a different opportunity is, kind of, a joke." I would say, "Maybe you're right, there's a good chance that you're probably wrong, unless you're an extremely niche field." Because skills are transferable. And if you're in that moment, where you're realizing this is something that's really hitting me hard and hitting, like impacting those around me, right, like, it's when... it goes beyond just you and starts impacting those around you, like, you may be having that impact on those around you, and realize that, if there are those people in your life who say, "Get your job, and you stick to it. And that's the one thing that you do." That's not the world we live in. It's more a game of rather than, like, plant your roots and see how deep they go, you feel a little bit more like a game of chutes and ladders. So it's just a matter of where you shift. And ultimately, like if people are telling you, "You got the dream, but it's something doesn't feel right." That's fine. Trust that. And if people are angry, they'll come around. Especially if you're, like, you know this wrong, you're going to make yourself happy, it's going to make everyone else happy. And we've looked into it.
Scott Anthony Barlow 06:56
There's a particularly funny thing about the way meaningful careers work. What's the dream, I'm using air quotes, for one person is the next person's nightmare. And just staying in your job or role because it seems like a good job won't actually make that feeling go away. Maybe you've already had that realization, though, and you decide you're going to make a change, whether it's a new career for you, or maybe it's even starting your own thing. How do you decide where to spend your time and what's going to be valuable for your time?
Matt Toy 07:27
The more that you can double down on your health and your wellness, the better. That will go back to effectiveness and efficiency of how you run your business. And also just the decisions that you make.
Scott Anthony Barlow 07:38
That's Matt Toy. And in his case, he was starting his own thing. It was a yoga studio, specifically for men. But he found that he was faced with the same thing that everybody does, when they're making a big change like this. We all only have 24 hours in a day. So how you use that time becomes even more important when you're already busy. And now you're adding even more by trying to make a career change or start something new on top of it all.
Matt Toy 08:07
So what I loved about your course was the whole master schedule. So really looking down and saying, what's my schedule look like on a day to day, weekly, monthly, maybe even yearly basis and really figuring out okay, where am I losing time? Or where am I not being effective? Or where am I just sitting by myself thinking and analyzing and judging and blah, blah, blah. So that was really helpful to look at it and be like, "Okay, cool. When I am going to be taking action and growing a business, am I still going to go to the gym? Am I still going to practice yoga? Am I still going to eat well?" You know, you allocate time to all the things that keep the machine going, that keep, you know, gas in the tank, essentially, because the downfall or the pitfall that I've seen, especially for younger people, you know, 20s, 30s is that they get all hyped up, they get an idea and they go full fledged, right. Whether or not it's the right idea doesn't matter, but they go full fledged, burn themselves out, just not losing those core principles while you build a business because it's going to be challenging when you build a business, there's going to be lots of unknowns, right. And that puts you in, a lot of times, an emotional state that's, like, a little bit frantic.
Scott Anthony Barlow 09:19
Something else that Matt mentioned, is one thing that we see that's difficult for nearly everyone. For some reason, most of us think that we can do this thing all by ourselves, but honestly, these types of changes really rarely happen without the support of other people in this world.
Laura Morrison 09:39
Yeah, I think you know, it took me a few months to look for outside help. And that was the thing that I needed.
Scott Anthony Barlow 09:46
Okay, you might remember Laura Morrison, she was back on episode 213 of the podcast. She was working in sustainability. She had a great job, but she'd pretty much topped out on growth with the organization and she had an 18 month old baby and knew that she may need to make a change, but she was getting pretty stuck.
Laura Morrison 10:04
I think, particularly as someone who has been successful, it's hard to admit to myself, it was hard for me to say I couldn't do it by myself. You know, I'm smart person, I should be able to figure this out. But as soon as I, you know, had my first career coaching experience, it completely turned around my approach to finding a new job. And it completely gave me the power back and the tools that I needed to do it. So I think, you know, if you know exactly what you want to do, well, you're probably not listening to this podcast. But if you don't, just know that there are a lot of tools and resources and people out there who can help you. And for me, that made all the difference.
Michal Balass 10:48
Be kind to yourself, be patient to yourself, and that things do always work out.
Scott Anthony Barlow 10:55
That's Michal Balass, her journey took over a year to make her career change. But here's the thing, if she would have rushed it, though, she might not have found the role that she's in now, or even started a side business in photography along the way.
Michal Balass 11:12
Keep on having conversations, don't have conversations because you're looking for another job, have conversations with people who are doing things that are interesting, because you're interested in it. And that's going to open a whole world to you that you don't know about because you're not having conversations. And I want to say that I'm a very introverted person, when I walk into a party, I'm not the center of it, and never was, but I can have these conversations now. And I am still connecting. And, you know, even now, where I'm very happy with my current position, and I'm not looking to do anything necessarily, in terms of leaving or anything of that nature, I'm still having conversations, I'm having conversations with other people at universities, I'm having conversations with people outside of my department learning about interesting things, because I don't know what circumstance is going to change, which is going to spark another move or another desire for a career change. And I think that's really important. The important part of having conversations is, about, that it enlightens you about the possibilities. And when you hear about somebody who's doing something that is so fantastically interesting to you, very inspiring, it keeps me going, it keeps me growing as a professional.
Scott Anthony Barlow 12:41
Michal kept doing the really hard things. And in her case, this meant having conversations and building relationships with others, even though this was incredibly difficult for her at first. But she later learned that she actually enjoyed this. But there were many times where she had to do those things that she didn't want to do to get where she wanted to go. Now, Dave Stachowiak has found the exact same thing.
Dave Stachowiak 13:07
I said, "You know what? I'm not sure how this all gonna work long term. Yes, I'm struggling this week, or this month with putting my time and effort into this. But I said I was gonna do this. And so I'm going to keep doing it." And I love the quote, from... I forget which NBA player it was from. One of the NBA players said, "Being a professional is about doing the things you love to do on the days you don't feel like doing it." And that to me resonates because that's been my whole career, there's been days I've shown up for everything that I don't want to do, what I need to do that day, or what I've committed to do to someone that day, or to my clients or to my organization. And so while it was frustrating at times, that also was not something that was... that I hadn't navigated before. And I said, "I'm gonna keep doing this and just see what happens." And it's also helpful and this is where what your listeners here are doing, Scott, is listening to other perspectives and listening other people out there and listening to people say things like, "If you do anything that is meaningful in the world, it's going to take time, it's not going to be an overnight success. And nor should it be." In fact, today that's, you know, it's just part of the journey. And it's very much adapted and grown.
Scott Anthony Barlow 14:25
Hey, I hope you have enjoyed this episode. It's chock-full of advice from people that have been there, done that, got the teaser, all the things that you probably wouldn't have thought would be so incredibly important. And if I didn't do this day after day and hadn't made any of these changes myself, I probably went to realize that either. So we've actually taken all of this advice, everything and put it on to a blog post that can be even more useful and we put a little extra into. We've got even more in store for you next week right here on the Happen To Your Career podcast.
Michael Hyatt 15:00
Nothing is way underrated in our culture. And yet when you think about it, when you're doing nothing, sometimes that's where you get the biggest breakthroughs of all. You have that creative thought that sponsor multimillion dollar idea. Or you figure out how to fix a relationship that's broken. But it takes that time of doing nothing to get those kind of breakthrough. So again, I'm after freedom. That's my vision.
Scott Anthony Barlow 15:23
Yeah, all that plus plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. We'll see you then. Until then. Adios. I am out.
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